James Taranto thinks you’re stupid, too

The Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web columnist James Taranto is smarter than this, I thought. From today’s column: “The 14th Amendment clearly does not authorize the executive branch to incur more debt without congressional approval.” The debt ceiling debate is NOT about incurring more debt. It is about paying the debt Congress has already incurred. Taranto knows that. Republican officeholders know that — even if they sometimes pretend they don’t. They just think you’re stupid and don’t know any better.

Speaking of the 14th Amendment gambit he described in the quote above and of another out-there idea — to have the Treasury Secretary take advantage of a poorly written law to mint two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in the Treasury and put that money on the books, thus enabling the United States to continue paying its debts — Taranto also says this: “Democrats, for their part, are again suggesting two ways of working around the debt limit.”

That’s just wrong. Democrats don’t want to work around the debt limit. They want to increase it, as a Republican Congress did without drama 19 times during the Bush administration. It is the Republican refusal to increase the debt limit without onerous preconditions (which they don’t have the votes to win through the normal political process) that’s forcing Democrats and other sane people to think way outside the box. This isn’t, as a friend of mine liked to say, rocket surgery. If Republicans refuse to vote to increase the debt limit unless they get their way on spending cuts and President Obama sticks firm to his vow not to negotiate with terrorists again on the debt ceiling limit, the effects on the global and national economies will be catastrophic.

If minting trillion dollar coins can avoid those consequences, then mint the damn coins.

Even better, slap some sense into those Republicans who believe hostage-taking is a legitimate form of political negotiation. Or arrest them for economic treason and terrorism, which is exactly what they would be committing if, in the end, they actually pull the trigger and refuse to vote for a clean limit on the debt ceiling.

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